Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 24: Santo y Blue Demon en el mundo de los muertos (Santo and Blue Demon in the World of the Dead, 1969)

       So we've reached game 3 of our three game series with Blue Demon. This one is billed as another team up, but the title is a bit of a misnomer. You see, this entry deals heavily in Santo's lineage and legacy, with the first 20 or so minutes taking place in 1600s Mexico. Santo again plays one of his own Ancestors, billed as the Silver Knight, who is waging a sort of one man war on a cabal of Witches and Satan Worshippers who are up to no good in this new spanish territory. Blue Demon also features as one of his own ancestors, trapped in a sort of phantasm state after being defeating by the forces of darkness and forced to work for them. 

17th Century Man!

       It's billed as a Santo/Blue Demon team up, but its mostly a Santo vehicle with Blue Demon getting an extended cameo. After the Extended flashback ends, and we jump forward to present day Mexico, Blue Demon's role in the story is mostly forgotten until the climax. Its technically not even "our" Blue Demon, as it is a past Blue Demon who is cursed. The plus side to this is that there is a vague sort of explanation as to Blue Demon's moniker. Once known as the Blue Knight in the 1600s, people started referring to him as a demon after he was cursed to walk the nether realms and serve the forces of evil, hence the name "Blue Demon". 

The Worst Satanic ritual orgry....ever!

         Once we're in the modern day, that is 1960s Mexico, we learn that the female descendent of the lead Witch Santo's ancestor sent to the stake to burn, is going to be possessed by her vengeful ancestor. This poses a problem for Santo, as this is his newest squeeze. I swear, for a dork in a silver wrestling mask, this guy sees more trim than a toilet seat. He definitely gives James Bond a run for his money, and likely changes his women out faster than he does his wrestling tights. 

Did you know they had mock turtlenecks in the 17th century?

        I have to admit to getting a strange enjoyment out of this return to Santo's lineage. It adds a greater weight and sense of a larger universe to these movies, knowing that there have been all these Champions of justice known as Santo through the ages. It's not the most terribly original idea for a superhero, as its been done with characters like The Phantom and even Batman, both of whom Santo is obviously modeled after, but still, its an effort to add a more complex storyline to these films and its welcome. 

One of their few on-screen moments together, in Hell...

   What's not welcome is the continued practice of stealing footage from other movies. This time out its Mario Bava's Hercules In The Haunted World. Footage of the dead rising from graves is used repeatedly from this movie. Aside from it being obviously stolen, due to its overly grainy appearance, there's no effort to match it up to the rest of the movie! Shots of zombies rising from their tombs cut to scenes of Santo supposedly fighting these same zombies, only now they're wrestlers in white fright wigs instead of rotting corpses.

A fine family film!

      24 films out, Santo and his filmmaking friends have decided to hue close to a tried and true formula, making this entry one of the more durable ones. It doesn't always fire on all cylinders and isn't nearly as strong as the previous film in this series, but its still one of the better entries. The effort to get the period stuff as right as possible on a Mexican film budget alone makes this a strong entry. There's some awkward stuff with Santo having a fencing match with two undead goons, but its more laugh inducing than groan inducing, as Santo's slow reaction time helps add to the film's offbeat charm. 


Three Silver Masks out of a possible Five

Fun Fact: Blue Demon actually resented having to be second fiddle to Santo in this picture, being relegated to villain status again. Being the better wrestler in the ring, Blue felt he deserved top billing, but Santo was already a living legend in Mexico at that point, so Blue has to play along.

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